Recalling the horrific terrorist attack on the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) today presented its Moral Courage Award to first responders and posthumously to Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, one of the 11 victims.

AJC Executive Council members Kim Pimley and Rick Berkman conferred the awards at the AJC Global Forum.

“Through the carnage of the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue, Dr. Rabinowitz chose to utilize his medical expertise to attempt to save innocent lives. As he fought to rescue the victims of this act of hatred, he became a victim himself.,” said Pimley. Rabinowitz, a physician and member of Pittsburgh’s vibrant Jewish community, was worshipping at the Saturday morning service.

Sam Kramer, Rabinowitz’s brother-in-law, accepted the award on behalf of his widow, Miri, who was in Israel..“To you, Sam, your sister Miri, and the Rabinowitz family – the Jewish community has been profoundly moved by Jerry’s heroism,” said Pimley. “That terrible day last October left a scar in our country, and in our community, that can never heal … and the searing wound to your family, and to the families of the 10 other victims, fills us all with grief.”

Pittsburgh police and EMS responded rapidly to what became the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Four officers were wounded, two critically.

“It is impossible to know how many more precious lives might have been lost were it not for the First Responders who answered the call on that Shabbat morning,’ said Berkman, a native of Pittsburgh and its Squirrel Hill neighborhood, who presented the award to the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety First Responders.

Accepting the award on behalf of the department were Officer Michael Smidga, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; Officer Sean Stumpf, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; Assistant Chief Mark Pinchalk, Pittsburgh Bureau of Emergency Medical Services; District Chief Justin Sypolt, Pittsburgh Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

The AJC Global Forum, taking place June 2-4 in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together nearly 2,500 civic, political, and Jewish leaders from across the United States and 50 countries around the world.

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